Spiro named as guest of honour

SPIRO Notaras will soon add a special scene to his reel of fond Jacaranda-time memories.

The 77-year-old Notaras Sawmill and Saraton Theatre identity has been named as this year's Jacaranda Festival guest of honour, and will crown the 2010 Queen on the festival calendar's night of nights.

From a seven-year-old dancing the maypole, to a young man racing against a greyhound, to a dad helping his three kids on board a float, Mr Notaras has a lifetime of involvement in – and funny memories of – the Jaca Festival.

He said it was by far the most magical time of year in Grafton.

“There's no town in Australia that looks as beautiful as Grafton when the jacarandas are out,” he said. “There's nothing like it – it still takes my breath away.”

Mr Notaras said one of his earliest recollections of Jacaranda time was 70 years ago when he and all the local schoolkids converged on Grafton Showground to dance the maypole.

“I still remember those as some of the best days,” he said.

Mr Notaras's memories also extended to the festivals held on Pound Street, “the original avenue”, in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

“They really were something special,” he said.

He laughed when he recalled the year he competed in some of the crazy events dreamt up for Jacaranda.

“I ran against a greyhound and a bicycle rider,” he chuckled. “They all beat me.”

Mr Notaras's ex-wife Elizabeth (nee Price) was crowned Holiday Princess when the couple first started going out, and once they were married she became Jacaranda Festival committee president, which sealed his own participation in the event.

“The family grew up going to Jacarandas,” he said. “My kids were all on the floats.”

After many years organising trucks for processions and sponsoring Queen candidates, Mr Notaras said he was looking forward to this next chapter in his Jacaranda history. “I'm starting to get keyed up about it now,” he said. “I am delighted.”



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